Lillie Cohen hates Rex Utah for abandoning her six years ago after taking her virginity and leaving her pregnant. To heal her broken heart, she dedicates her life to running the family cattle ranch with her father. But when she learns Rex is back in town and about to hang for a murder he didn’t commit, she is forced to rescue her son’s father and help him clear his name.
Rex Utah regrets the day he disappeared from the Cohen Ranch, leaving behind the only woman he ever loved. When he returns to seek forgiveness from her and ease his conscience, he is faced with a hard-nosed cowgirl who has a son to match.
But someone is trying to keep them apart. Can they put differences aside and fight for the love they once had, or will they die trying?
Lillie stopped giggling and rose to her feet holding the Indian blanket even tighter over her bare chest. She stepped backward until she bumped against the rough log wall. She couldn’t help but take in Rex’s physique. The teenage boy she had fallen in love with all those years ago had turned into a handsome man. His muscled chest and arms revealed a male of great strength. The tablecloth tied below his bellybutton drew her gaze lower. His arousal became obvious. She shut her eyes and turned her head to the side.
Lillie became aware the moment Rex moved within inches from her. And he called her name in his deep honey-coated tone. Her body began to soften and change at the sound of his alluring voice. Her heart raced even faster when his lips skimmed her neck. She wanted to melt right into him and let their bodies become one. She couldn’t do this. Her son was the most important person in her life. What if Rex left them behind again? What if she woke up the next morning after making love to find him gone forever? Her pain would be unbearable. But most of all, she didn’t dare introduce Ben to his father. The wanderer.
Lillie opened her eyes and turned her head to face Rex. “No.” The word barely left her mouth as his lips descended on hers at the same time. He stopped and stepped back from her. A blank expression came over his face. His forehead tensed. If only he knew how much she wanted him. It took every ounce of energy she had to say that two-letter word that would stop her torture. His eyes revealed the passion waiting to consume her body and soul. The walls of the small cabin closed in on her. The sound of their heavy breathing made her heart want to cry out in pain.
“Why?” Rex flexed his hands into fists by his side. “Why do you tease me?”
Lillie leaned away from the cabin wall. She wanted to run into his arms. She shook her head and stared at the floor feeling confused.
“I’m afraid,” Lillie whispered letting the tears flow.
Rex walked closer and leaned one hand on the wall beside her head. With the other, he lifted her chin. “You mean the woman who led a band of cowboys ripping and roaring into town snapping a whip and rescuing me from a lynching mob is afraid of receiving a little love from a man she’s already been with in the past?”
Lillie placed her hand on his cheek. “No, Rex. I’m afraid of loving and losing you all over again. My heart couldn’t take it.”
Rex’s dark eyes widened. His smile changed into a frown. He stepped back. “I understand. This is not a good idea.” He walked away, grabbed his clothes, and started to dress. “It sounds like it stopped raining. We should head back to the ranch.”
“You already had plans to leave.” Lillie approached him. “Didn’t you?”
While in the process of tucking his shirt into his pants, Rex turned to her. “I wanted to tell you the day you disappeared. But I had to make sure you were safe. Besides, I made a promise to Ben and your father that I would find you.” His gaze dropped to her scanty attire and returned to her face.
“Turn around so I can dress.” Lillie grabbed her clothes from beside the fireplace. “I knew you wouldn’t stay around long.”
“I have no choice. I can’t wait for the sheriff and his posse to show up and try to hang me again. I didn’t kill that bank teller. Why the hell is someone trying to frame me for murder?”
Lillie paused in the middle of buttoning her blouse. “I bet Jose is behind this.”
“Why? I assumed we were still friends since we grew up together.”
“I once thought that also.” Lillie looked away. “He has changed.”
“Jose lied to me about where you were. He said you had ridden off by yourself.” Rex turned her toward him. “I found him drunk in the bunkhouse. He mumbled something about marriage and the ranch before he passed out.” He placed his hands on her shoulders and made her look at him. “What the hell is going on around here? What would he have to gain?”
“Control of the ranch. Jose has been trying to get me to marry him. Even Mable has been trying to push me into a union with him.” Lillie tried to ignore the growing uneasiness settling in her stomach. She had been so busy with the ranch and her son she hadn’t been paying too much attention to Jose’s recent activities. She had been trying to avoid him. Now she realized that had been a big mistake.
“Do you love him?” Rex whispered.